|Directed by||Peter Berg|
by Ace Atkins
|Cinematography||Tobias A. Schliessler|
|Edited by||Mike Sale|
|Music by||Steve Jablonsky|
Spenser Confidential is a 2020 American action comedy film directed by Peter Berg and with a screenplay written by Sean O'Keefe and Brian Helgeland. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, Alan Arkin, Iliza Shlesinger, Bokeem Woodbine, Donald Cerrone, Marc Maron, and Post Malone and marks the fifth collaboration between Wahlberg and Berg after Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day, and Mile 22.
The film was announced in 2018 as an adaptation of the 2013 novel Robert B. Parker's Wonderland by author Ace Atkins. It was released on March 6, 2020, by Netflix to mixed reviews.
Boston police officer Spenser arrives with his partner, Driscoll, to the home of Captain John Boylan. While questioning Boylan regarding the murder of Gloria Weisnewski, Spenser sees Mrs. Boylan's bloody face and beats Boylan. Spenser is brought up on charges, pleads guilty, and is sentenced to prison. While incarcerated, Spenser studies to become a truck driver and is released after serving five years. But shortly before, he is warned to leave Boston and never return. Spenser is met outside by his friend Henry Cimoli. They drive to Cimoli's residence, where Spenser is reunited with Driscoll and takes up residence with Henry and his roommate, Hawk.
Boylan attends a meeting at a bus yard, where an SUV collides with his car. Boylan is dragged from his car and murdered. Detective Terrence Graham is discovered murdered in the same SUV. Spenser and Henry learn about Boylan's death shortly before Driscoll and his partner arrive at the residence to question him about his possible involvement. Henry provides Spenser with an alibi and cites Hawk as another. A news report implicating Detective Graham in Boylan's murder inspires Spenser to investigate the murder due to his acquaintance with Graham and his belief that he was unlikely to commit suicide.
Spenser questions Letitia about the night of the murder, before heading to a police bar where she said Graham had been that night and meeting with Scotty Traylor, Terrence's partner. Traylor confirms Letitia's story that Terrence had suspected Boylan of being dirty. Spenser gains access to the CCTV footage from the store across the street where he observed Terrence getting into a Corvette, while two others got into his SUV and followed him. Spenser visits the bus yard and discovers a toothpick on the ground similar to the ones Driscoll uses. He heads to Driscoll's gym to ask him about the murder. Driscoll attempts to dissuade him away from the case, and denies having been to the crime scene.
Spenser chases a Corvette similar to the one on the footage on foot and is attacked by a dog. Hawk catches the license plate number of the car and traces it to Charles Bentwood. Spenser, Henry, and Hawk begin surveillance of Bentwood and observe him making a hand off to Macklin. They discover an FBI team led by Agent Burton is also surveilling. Spenser questions Squeeb (an inmate during his time in the Walpole prison), which leads him to Wonderland Greyhound Park, the site of a future casino, and escorted off the property.
Driscoll and Macklin decide to kill Spenser. Some men attempt to kill Spenser at a restaurant, but he's rescued by Hawk. Henry's house is not safe, so Spenser calls his ex, Cissy for a place for Henry, Hawk, and himself to stay. Letitia’s apartment has been tossed. She calls Spenser for help, and when he shows up she gives him a recording Terrence had mailed to her, of a meeting, confirming that Boylan was dirty, and implicating Bentwood, Macklin, and Driscoll. Spenser confronts Driscoll and offers him the chance to turn himself in, which he declines. Spenser brings it to Agent Burton who deems it insufficient evidence.
Spenser tracks down Bentwood and interrogates him, resulting in Bentwood's confession that there’s a shipment of drugs coming to Wonderland. Spenser and Hawk find the shipment and force it off the road, then take down two of the gang members inside, with the third escaping. Spenser's reporter contact declares the drugs to be insufficient evidence. Spenser receives a call from Henry's phone from Driscoll. Driscoll demands a meeting with Spenser at Wonderland, threatening to kill Henry if he doesn't bring the drugs.
Spenser, Hawk, and Cissy go to Wonderland where Driscoll and others are gathered on the track. Spenser and Hawk arrive in a truck and plow through the gang members' vehicles. Driscoll flees into the race track's clubhouse and Spenser pursues him, culminating in a brawl between the two of them that results in Spenser performing a citizen's arrest. They pile the drugs and other evidence on the infield and leave Driscoll, Bentwood, and Macklin restrained nearby. Spenser and Hawk are declared heroes, the casino project is shut down, Boylan and Driscoll are charged in Weisnewski's murder, and Driscoll is convicted and sent to prison.
Spenser, Hawk, Cissy and Henry celebrate the victory by going to a local diner, having lobsters as a celebratory dinner. The scene is then interrupted by the TV in the diner, showing news that Boston Fire Department Chief Marty Foley being arrested, over charges of arson. The scene ends with Spenser; who has known Foley since high school, going deep into thought, with Cissy and Henry attempts to draw Spenser out of another intervention recuse.
The film was produced by Neal H. Moritz, Stephen Levinson, Mark Wahlberg, and Peter Berg through their respective production companies Original Film, Leverage Entertainment, Closest to the Hole Productions, and Film 44. During the autumn of 2018, Winston Duke, Post Malone, Alan Arkin, Iliza Shlesinger, Bokeem Woodbine, James DuMont, Marc Maron Michael Gaston, and Colleen Camp joined the cast of the film.
The script was a collaborative effort penned by Sean O'Keefe and Brian Helgeland and filming began late in 2018 in Boston. The residence of character Cimoli was filmed in the Jones Hill neighborhood of Boston, on the street where actor Wahlberg lived during his teenage years, while Raynham Park, another former greyhound racing track, stood in for the demolished Wonderland Greyhound Park. Funeral scenes were filmed at Central Cemetery in Randolph, Massachusetts.
The film score was composed by Steve Jablonsky, who has worked with director Peter Berg on previous films. The soundtrack was released by BMG.
The film was released by Netflix on March 6, 2020. At a meeting in April 2020 discussing first quarter business data, Netflix reported 85 million households watched the film over its first six weeks of release. In November, Variety reported the film was the 21st-most watched straight-to-streaming title of 2020 up to that point.
On the review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 37% based on 82 reviews, with an average rating of 4.70/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "While the buddy cops at the center of Spenser Confidential are plenty affable, the comedy never arrives as this half-hearted vehicle goes purely through the motions." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 49 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."
Elisabeth Vincentelli of the New York Times criticized the film's deviation from its source material, observing that there was "almost no resemblance to the Ace Atkins novel Robert B. Parker’s Wonderland ... aside from the Boston location, the main characters’ names and something or other about an abandoned dog-racing track." Daniel Woburn of the online entertainment news website Screen Rant elaborated further on this disparity, noting many differences in characterization from the series as a whole and calling out the plot, in particular, as deviating heavily from the original novel with the biggest common thread between them being the finale at the race track.
On September 2, 2020, a sequel was confirmed to be in development with Berg, Helgeland, and Wahlberg returning.